Ever wonder what the term “flat feet” really means? Flat feet are commonly denoted by the degradation of the arches. If you’re curious as to whether or not you have flat feet, you can perform a simple wet test. Simply dip your foot in a shallow tray of water and lightly step onto a piece of paper. If the footprint does not have a curve in the center, then you most likely have a flat foot.
Fallen arches tend to form from an underdevelopment during childhood as well as the general wear and tear of aging. This common foot condition typically comes with little to no pain, it can generate issues in the alignment of the legs.
What are the symptoms?
While most patients do not experience any symptoms or pain, there are some signs that are indicative of flat feet. Pain in the heel or arch are common initial symptoms of fallen arches. Swelling along the inside of the ankle can occur due to the misalignment of the legs. Such symptoms often appear after playing in athletic events or following extended periods of standing. Dr. Trent Timson can immediately diagnose this condition by examining the way in which the foot contacts the floor. If the arch of the foot has fallen, diagnostic tests may be needed. Many imaging tools help physicians to “see” inside the body and determine the best treatment options.
What are the treatments options?
The most common treatment for flat foot pain is rest. Reducing the number of high impact activities and staying off of the foot will generally get rid of the pain. Patients can participate in a number of low impact activities like biking, swimming, or walking for exercise. In most cases, over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen are successful in pain management. When obesity is a factor in flat foot formation, weight loss is effective in correction of the tendon structures.
Orthotics are helpful in providing the support and alignment the body needs. A custom orthotic can be designed to fit your specific foot shape; these devices largely reduce the symptoms of fallen arches. In conjunction with these devices, certain exercises and shoes are utilized to provide the most effective treatment. Specialty shoes are also available to realign the lower limbs.
Some cases require surgery to clean or repair a torn or ruptured tendon. Invasive surgery can also be utilized to fuse the joints in the foot into an appropriate position.
What are the causes of flat feet?
Fallen arches are common in young children. Arch development is a stage of growth for all infants. When the tendons in the feet do not naturally tighten by the age of three, flat feet often result. Loosening of the tendons that hold the joints of the foot together can also cause the loss of tensile strength in the arches. This risk of degradation in the tendons increases with obesity, direct trauma to the foot, arthritis, and general aging. Injuries and illnesses that cause a fallen arch commonly only afflict one foot. In rare cases tarsal coalition, the fusion of bones in the foot, can occur as a result of flat feet.